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The exciting lives of globetrotting interns

From Paris and Shanghai to New Jersey and Tokyo, these jet-setting interns discovered a world of opportunity during internships that took them across countries and continents. Fancy heading to seven countries over six months while as an intern!
by Derek Rodriguez

Intern in charge

An internship in Paris, the City of Light, led Tan Shu Yu to see the new energies market in a different light.

During her three months with Total, the fourth-year Renaissance Engineering Programme student made her way around the multinational oil and gas company’s headquarters in Paris, and its Shanghai office and manufacturing plant in Malacca.

“The company wanted me to use the internship to understand the business by talking to colleagues from different departments, and even from other parts of the world, which was amazing,” says Shu Yu, who chose Total due to her chemical engineering specialisation.

Right off the bat, she was put in charge of a project in the solar division, a field she wasn’t very familiar with, and tasked to complete a benchmark analysis for equipment suppliers for the manufacturing of solar cells.

For that project, she was flown to the Shanghai office for two weeks to consolidate information on the suppliers and their products there.

To her surprise, her supervisor in Shanghai gave her autonomy to manage the project, but provided support when she needed it. From attending meetings with clients to celebrating milestones in the office, the two weeks flew by.

“On my first day in Shanghai, he told me to do as I saw fit. That threw me off guard,” she lets on.

“Everything I did was new and felt very interesting and exciting,” says Shu Yu, adding that although her role was a non-technical one, she was able to draw on her engineering knowledge acquired in NTU.

Another work trip, this time to a cell fabrication plant in Malacca, cemented her fascination with the new energies industry.

“It was my first time seeing how a manufacturing plant was run, and in such great detail. The manager was very patient, explaining how things worked and pointing out issues with the existing equipment, one of the areas I was investigating for my project.”

Her French foray came with unexpected perks beyond work, as she quickly embraced the Parisian lifestyle and fuelled her interest in art.

“My staff pass gave me VIP access to the Louvre. I could get in and see the Mona Lisa before the crowd descended on it. I travelled to other towns in the country too. My favourite was Giverny, where the famous impressionist painter, Claude Monet, lived. I visited his house and garden and even saw the pond that inspired his famous Water Lilies series!”

Although it only lasted three months, her internship has illuminated her path to the future.

“I realised that while it is important to know your job and perform well, it’s also imperative to widen your network and get to know people. Learning to work in a cross-functional and multi-cultural environment and striving to collaborate with teams across the world gave me valuable skills and important life lessons.”

These will come in handy when she embarks on her next internship this June at the Singapore Economic Development Board, as she continues to find her place in the sun.